"When they allow a talk show host to play them like a two-dollar banjo, they demonstrate what kind of backbone they'll bring to the job later on, if we elect them. After they get elected will they continue to allow Jeff Crank to put a nickel in them and wind them up every Saturday morning?"

Barry Noreen, former columnist, Colorado Springs Gazette

Thursday, June 30, 2011

SB-200 Where Do We Go From Here?


In the give and take that is our government, for every law that is passed, there are supporters and opponents. Some laws, such as Obamacare (PPACA*) are so bad they need to be repealed and effort should be expended to do so. But others, such as SB-200 are laws that should be monitored to determine whether they will be helpful, neutral or detrimental.

SB-200 is a Colorado law that was passed last legislative session under great opposition from various Liberty groups. The purpose of the law is to set up a Health Insurance Exchange for Colorado. Since Exchanges are also mandated in PPACA, some Liberty groups saw SB-200 as “Obamacare for Colorado” It was even nicknamed “AmyCare” after the Republican sponsor, Rep. Amy Stephens. Another point of opposition was that it sets up the exchanges under Colorado terms, versus the Federal government doing so in 2014 under PPACA, which opponents see as making it harder to repeal PPACA. If parts of PPACA are considered good since some states enacted Exchanges on their own, it could be argued that the whole law should not be repealed. The Freedom groups are worried that giving a little ground on this may open the door to further big government intrusion, which is anathema to our beliefs. Perhaps the final nail in the coffin for the Freedom groups was the extremely liberal Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Boyd, who thinks PPACA is a good bill.

While involved with a Tea Party group, I also belong to a health care task force with a local business organization that supported the measure, so felt I was in a good position to see both sides. The bill was supported by a broad coalition including most of the major business organizations in Colorado who are desperately seeking solutions to skyrocketing healthcare costs which threaten to put them out of business. One reason they don’t see SB-200 as "ObamaCare for Colorado" is because it is a solution that was proposed even before Obama was elected. The Heritage Foundation put out a position paper stating that, done right, Health Insurance Exchanges could be beneficial. Even if it turns out to be beneficial, SB-200 is not the one and only answer to the problem, but just one of many small measures that should be tried. Experimenting at the state level with smaller measures makes much more sense than a 2700 page Federal debacle. I would like to see the Colorado Republican Party introduce measures next year that they think will be helpful to bring down health care costs.

I think both sides had good points, so rather than continuing to debate the merits of this bill, which currently is law, it may be more useful to move forward and monitor the implementation of the bill. At the Tea Party Tax Day rally at the Capitol, there were calls by some speakers for repercussions against Republican legislators who supported SB-200. I hope this kind of talk dies down, as there are more important issues that our Freedom groups need to focus on right now, such as fighting any proposed tax increases or further erosion of TABOR. And those are just the state level issues. The debate over the budget and debt ceiling vote is a crisis for the whole country; one which will most likely be settled for better or for worse by Aug. 2. That is coming up soon!

Governing in a democracy is time consuming, requires give and take and is very frustrating at times, but that is the price we pay for living in a free country where everyone is entitled to their opinion. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

*PPACA is the official name for “Obamacare” and stands for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This name is a joke as it will neither make health care affordable nor protect patients and will in fact, have the opposite effect, IMHO.

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